Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick Visitor’s Guide – 48 Hours in North Brooklyn

No visit to New York is complete without a visit to the North Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Formerly three working-class and industrial neighborhoods, North Brooklyn now hosts many of New York’s best restaurants, a thriving art scene, and New York’s best shopping and night life. Hipster jokes aside — Girls is filmed here and The Hipster Handbook has its origins in Williamsburg — there’s more to North Brooklyn than normcore and artisanal gin bars. Pack in the highlights in 48 hours with our travel guide to Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick.


Maison Premiere

Maison Premiere

4pm: Oysters and Absinthe at Maison Premiere

Pleasantly removed from the hustle and bustle of the Bedford and North Sixth intersection, a visit to Maison Premiere is a perfectly indulgent way to begin your crawl through Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This high-concept establishment is part French bistro, part rawbar and features a beautiful U-shaped marble bar. Servers are generally decked out in the obligatory vests and old-timey slacks — this is Williamsburg after all — and the menu features a high-end cocktails list, absinthe, and a decent wine selection. Best of all, from 4pm – 7pm Monday through Friday oysters are half-price. The menu boasts over 20 varieties from both the East Coast and the West. Make sure to arrive early to assure a seat!

6:30pm: Check out the Skyline at The Ides

Perched on the eighth floor of the Wythe Hotel is The Ides, a hotel bar with an enormous roofdeck and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. Drinks can be a bit spendy here, but the views will ease the pain. Go for the people-watching and for photo-ops as the sun sets behind the Chrysler and Empire State buildings in the distance. Highly recommended.

8pm: Gastro Overdrive

Williamsburg is one of New York’s top culinary destinations so it’s really hard to go wrong when picking a restaurant. For dinner curate your own meal — we’ll provide suggestions. Critics’ favorite Reynard is downstairs from the Ides (on the ground floor of the Wythe hotel). That said, we prefer a few of the less buzzed-about joints. Rye serves up a mean Old Fashioned — pair it with the Long Island Duck Breast, Roasted Organic Chicken, or the popular Rye Meatloaf Sandwich at this cozy speakeasy. Cubana Social‘s slow roasted pork and empanadas are fantastic, especially on weekends to the accompaniment of live Cuban jazz. Allswell is a good choice for seasonal fare in an unpretentious setting and Brooklyn Star has amazing fried chicken and Southern comfort food with a ‘Nawlins twist. Ramen Yebisu serves up fantastic ramen — some of the best in the city. Five Leaves has a locally-sourced menu with great soups and burgers, but can get crowded so be prepared to wait. Diner, Marlow & Sons, Shalom Japan and Motorino are solid choices in south Williamsburg, but you may want to take a cab unless you’re prepared to walk. Want something less fussy? Swing by Mable’s for BBQ in a vintage country setting or Radegast Beer Hall for cheap sausages and fries (amazing) if you don’t mind navigating the bros in this spacious beer hall. Need more options, here are more of our favorites.



11PM: Have a State-of-the-Art Nightcap

Beer nerd alert: Tørst is officially your Mecca. Denmark’s Evil Twin Brewing maestro Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø opened this bar in the Polish district of Greenpoint in 2013 and its been packing in the beer afficionados ever since. They have dozens of brews on tap and a so-called “Flux Capacitor” that makes sure the draughts are served at the perfect temperature. The setting is Scandinavian minimalism at its best, which is currently all the rave in hip Greenpoint (aka Little Scandinavia).


10am: Get a Fussed Over Cup of Coffee

It’s hard to find a bad cup of coffee in the admittedly overly-precious Brooklyn these days. You’re here so why not indulge! We recommend starting your day at Blue Bottle on Berry Street, with the most precious cup o’ joe you’ll ever have:

“We are roasting coffee on a vintage Probat roaster, and serving coffee on a variety of interesting devices: Kyoto-style iced coffee drippers, a brand new La Marzocco espresso machine, a painstakingly restored 1958 Faema Urania lever espresso machine, and perhaps the longest and most theatrical drip bar on the eastern seaboard.”

If you haven’t had coffee from the Oakland-based chain, prepare to be delighted. Ridiculousness aside, Blue’s Bottle coffee will not disappoint.



11am: Smorgasburg on the Waterfront

If the weather is nice, head to Smorgasburg on the Williamsburg waterfront to try food from dozens of Brooklyn’s favorite restaurants. Over seventy vendors participate every Saturday in the warmer months and it’s a great place to take in the view of the East River and Manhattan beyond. Try some food mash-ups while you’re there. Past creations have included the Ramen Burger and the Cronut. More information at smorgasburg.com.

1pm: Do a Little Shopping

Williamsburg is one of the best places in New York City to shop. Where Manhattan is overrun with chains, there are countless boutiques and vintage stores where you can find one-of-a-kind items. Sure, there’s an American Apparel and an Urban Outfitters in Williamsburg too — not to mention the suddenly ubiquitous Brooklyn Industries — but this shouldn’t overshadow the neighborhood’s more unique offerings. Dozens of stores are just south of the Bedford Ave. L train stop, but great shopping can be found throughout the neighborhood as well as to the north in Greenpoint. Walking around and making your own discoveries is easy to do, but here are some of our favorite spots:

Vintage clothing can be found at MonksAmarcordAwoke Vintage, and Rabbits in Williamsburg and the iconic Beacon’s Closet (a crowd-pleasing favorite) in Greenpoint. Also, you’ll discover a blend of vintage items and crafts at Artist & Fleas which is a must for anyone visiting North Brooklyn. Try Crossroads Trading for used name-brand clothing.

If vintage isn’t your speed, contemporary men’s clothing can be found at ID New York or Gant or have a suit custom-made at Brooklyn Tailors.

JoineryMeg and the vintage-inspired Pinkyotto are popular for contemporary women’s fashion.  Women’s jewelry and accessories can be found at the Williamsburg staple Catbird.

Women and men alike can shop at the Brooklyn Denim and In God We Trust or hop over to Greenpoint for the tiny but fantastic Alter — the women and men’s stores are across the street from each other on Franklin Avenue.

For record shopping, visit Rough Trade in Williamsburg or Greenpoint favorites Permanent Records, Academy Records and Earwax. Inside the MiniMall at 232 Bedford Ave. (where you’ll find some of the neighborhood’s best shopping)  is the book store Spoonbill and Sugartown.  Comic fans will enjoy Desert Island. Speaking of the MiniMall, newcomer Shops at 240 Kent has many great stores all under one roof, and without the crowds.

Vintage furniture and houseware shoppers will be in heaven in Williamsburg. RePop has beautiful mid-century modern furniture, but the prices can be steep.  Junk on Driggs Ave. has over 10,000 square feet of space filled with lamps, sofas, dishes, clothes, and everything vintage you can imagine. Brooklyn Reclamation is worth a visit too.

Strawser & Smith is your one-stop shop for high-end home furnishings: “The building, from the 1920s, features exposed floor joists on the ceiling, raw and polished concrete slab floors, and a well patinated interior brick wall… We see the Industrial Age and Modernism as part of the same aesthetic fabric.” You get the point.

If you need new knives, cast-iron pans, or dish towels, visit Whisk for a much more personal experience than Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Now get that credit card out and go!

3pm: Exhausted?

You should be. You’ve been packing it in. Drop those bags off. Then, take a nap or have sex. Preferably both.

4:30pm: Happy Hour Beer Crawl

North Brooklyn is filled with places to try craft beer, including two breweries, The Brooklyn Brewery and Dirck the Norseman. On Saturdays, Brooklyn Brewery is open to the public and offers free tours and tastings. It’s an essential stop for beer connoisseurs or those simply interested in the science behind the making and bottling of this iconic Brooklyn beer. From there, head to Dirck the Norseman just a few blocks to the north. (The walk along Wythe is very industrial and hosts some of the neighborhood’s best murals and graffiti art.) Once you arrive at Dirck, we recommend trying their Clifford PL – an American Pale Ale which has a nice blend of malt and hops and a slightly citrusy aftertaste. If you want to sample more, make your way to The Diamond or Brouwerij Lane (they are in the direction of our recommended dinner spot in Greenpoint). They both have extensive beer lists.



7pm: Dinner at Glasserie

We left dinner decisions up to you last night, but tonight we’re going to be bossy and tell you where to go. If you don’t mind walking, head north on Franklin Street and follow it to the very end. Take a right and you’ll find yourself on the last block of Brooklyn, overlooking Newton Creek. Nestled inside a warehouse on this quiet block in Greenpoint is one of the best restaurants in Brooklyn, Glasserie. The menu is Mediterranean and features seasonal produce with a blend of small dishes and larger plates if you’re feeling hungry. The flaky flat bread is essential and pairs well with most of the small plates. Stand out dishes include Lamb and bulghur croquettes, Syrian cheese with pickled beets, and Chicken & snow peas with pistachio & sesame dukkah. (Note that the  menu changes daily). You may be in for a bit of a wait — it is Saturday night after all — but once you try the food you’ll be happy that you were patient.

9pm: See Some Music

You’re in the indie music capital of the world — sorry Austin, sorry Portland — so checking out some music is the perfect way to complete your Saturday night. Some of our favorites places to see indie bands include Shea Stadium, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Knitting Factory. Greenpoint has its own metal club, Saint Vitus, which is just blocks away from Glasserie if you’re into banging your head or droning out to stoner metal with up-and-coming bands. On some Saturdays, Brooklyn Bowl hosts the popular Soul Clap & Dance Off with DJ Jonathan Toubin where hipsters shimmy to classic R&B from the Sixties.  If Merle Haggard is more your speed, hear some Honkytonk at Skinny Dennis. Want to dance? Go to Output or Verboten for some EDM — and don’t worry —  they never spin the cheesy breed of electronica found in Manhattan clubs where all the dudes wear cologne. Bembe is a festive place to work up a sweat listening to Latin music and salsa (generally with live percussion accompanying the DJ). The club is on a moody and scenic block beneath the Williamsburg bridge. It gets crowded, but it’s always a good time. See our Music Calendar for daily picks and schedules.



Roberta’s Bee Sting pizza; credit: Serious Eats

11:00am: Brunch at Roberta’s

Even if you don’t live in New York, you’ve likely heard the buzz about Roberta’s. The Times calls it “one of the more extraordinary restaurants in the United States.” Anthony Bourdain raved about their food on No Reservations. And then there was that whole naked waitress thing. You can believe the hype, because Roberta’s is fantastic. It’s also insanely busy, which is why we recommend arriving for brunch before the crowds hit at noon. Start with one of their signature pizzas to share. You’re not going to find a better pie anywhere in the city. We like the Bee Sting which contrasts a salty soppressata with the sweetness of honey. From there, try any of their seasonal brunch dishes. The menu is always changing but everything is fresh and you really can’t go wrong.

2pm: Bushwick Gallery Hopping

No visit to North Brooklyn is complete without a little gallery hopping and Bushwick has the strongest gallery presence outside of Manhattan. Brokelyn has a nice overview of some favorites and there’s a great map here to help you navigate your way. If you visit during early summer, don’t miss Bushwick Open Studios. Bushwick Daily does a good job covering highlights if you’re looking for upcoming events and openings.

Other North Brooklyn Favorites

The City Reliquary Museum – A collection of odd New York-based memorabilia.
Brooklyn Flea – A great outdoor flea market with dozens of vendors. Sundays on the Williamsburg waterfront from 10-5pm, warmer months only.
Barcade – Play vintage arcade games while you drink craft beer.
Brooklyn Bowl – Have a great meal, bowl, and see a show all in one venue. Or bowl for half the price at The Gutter around the corner.
Mast Brothers Chocolate – Williamsburg’s artisanal chocolate makers.
Nitehawk Cinema – Drinks and dinner while you catch a flicker.
Peter Pan – Everyone’s favorite doughnut shop.
Jefftown – A popular new bar and restaurant strip on the Jefferson stop in Bushwick (the locals hate it when you call it Jefftown).
OddFellows Ice Cream Co. – Try creative flavors like Chorizo Caramel Swirl and Tobacco Leaf Smoked Chili Huckleberry.
The Northside Festival – If you’re travelling in June, this is Williamsburg’s version of South by Southwest.
PS 1 – It’s actually in Long Island City, just due north of Greenpoint, but this MoMA outpost is a fantastic alternative to the overly crowded museums in Manhattan.

Where to Sleep

Lodging can be expensive in New York. Your best bet on a budget is AirBnB or Hotel Jolie. Other lodging choices are McCarren Hotel (which has a saline pool) and our first choice The Wythe Hotel which hosts amazing views and a good bar. In Greenpoint, there’s the chic Box Hotel. It’s on a very industrial block and is a bit out of the way, but offers free shuttle service with vintage 1970′s checker cabs. There’s also a B&B on the Graham Ave. L train stop called the Urban Cowboy — it has a cowboy theme.

• McCarren Hotel & Pool (160 North 12th St. between Bedford Ave. and Berry St.; 718.218.7500; chelseahotels.com)
• The Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave. and North 12th St.; 718.460.8000; wythehotel.com)
• Hotel Jolie (235 Meeker Ave.; 718.625.2100; hotellejolie.com)
• The Box Hotel (77 Box Street; 347.765.2269 theboxhousehotel.com)
• Urban Cowboy B&B (111 Powers Street, urbancowboybnb.com)

Getting Around

The L and G trains connect most of North Brooklyn with service to South Williamsburg and parts of Bushwick on the J/M/Z lines. In Williamsburg, it’s fairly easy to hail a cab on the street, and travelling between North Brooklyn neighborhoods costs from $10-$18. Car services including Metroline (718.388.1111) and Northside (718.387.2222) are also available should you tire of walking. CitiBike is available for those wishing to bike.

New vegetarian restaurant, Black Flamingo, now open in Williamsburg


They have a $3 taco happy hour, which is alright by us:

The team behind Williamsburg barstaurant Battery Harris have joined forces with musicians Eli Goldstein (Soul Clap), Philipp Jung (M.A.N.D.Y.), and Gadi Mizrahi (Wolf & Lamb) to open Black Flamingo, a Miami-esque restaurant and lounge they say they’ve “tailored to remove the BS that plagues burgeoning New York restaurants and nightclubs alike.” An ambitious, arguably Quixotic dream, but at the very least Black Flamingo is a reliable destination for vegetarians who want to go dancing in a retro basement club after eating their Latino-inspired fare. [Read more...]

9 Williamsburg restaurants make Michelin’s 2016 Bib Gourmand list

bibMichelin’s Bib Gourmand list features restaurants where you can have two courses of food plus wine or dessert for under $40. Williamsburg’s [Read more...]

Zagat says Paulie has New York’s best pies


Paulie Gee, credit NY Times

I love Paulie’s so I was happy to see this – even though Totonno’s and Roberta’s have a slight edge in my opinion. Hopefully, the foot traffic the rating is sure to inspire won’t be as annoying as what we see outside of that overrated tourist trap Grimaldi’s. From Gothamist:

The 30,592 diners who participated in this year’s Google-owned Zagat Survey have spoken and declared that Greenpoint pie purveyor Paulie Gee’s fires up the city’s top pizza. In the 2015 guide, which was released today, the eaters lauded the “destination-worthy”—that’s called “borough-shaming,” Zagat!—pizzeria’s “one-of-a-kind” toppings and Paulie’s hands-on service as their favorite pick of the city’s dense pizza population. Following closely behind Paulie’s funky pies were the offerings at Lucali in Carroll Gardens, Juliana’s in Dumbo, Totonno’s of Coney Island and then Bushwick’s Roberta’s.

If the Brooklyn theme was apparent in the pizza category, it’s with good reason. The borough saw a 28% increase in the number of eateries reviewed, with 340 establishments making this year’s list. Of those, Williamsburg’s St. Anselm was ranked best of the borough, calling the steakhouse “cool” but “unpretentious” and saying that it has some of “the city’s best” beef. Other top borough picks included SriPraPhai, a Thai eatery in Queens; Roberto’s Italian in the Bronx; and Denino’s Pizzeria, taking home top honors for Staten Island.

More information about Paulie Gees here. Oh and nice URL, Gothamist: burnt_ashy_pizza_ftw.

Le Fanfare – new Italian restaurant with live jazz opens in Greenpoint

Le Fanfare

Le Fanfare; credit Greenpointers

There have been lots of new restaurant openings in Greenpoint of late including Esme and Le Fond. Now we can add Le Fanfare to the list, which opened quietly at the beginning of September:

The team behind NoLita’s Epistrophy Cafe brings homemade pasta, fresh seafood and other timeless Italian fare to this charming spot on Greenpoint’s main drag. Jazzy live acts perform on a tiny stage at the back of the narrow space decked out with checkered floors, communal tables and a small bar.

Greenpointers paid them a visit:

The cocktail list is short and classic, with drinks around $11, and the bar is comfortable and pleasantly backlit by a clouded mirror studded with star-like lights. … Seating beyond the bar falls into three categories: long communal tables, small marble two-tops built in along the wall, and exceptionally nice semi-separated marble-topped booths built for four….

Le Fanfare is a fantastic space in which to spend an evening. I do have some reservations about the food, which perhaps I judge harshly because every other aspect of the experience was so finely tuned and because certain dishes – that white bean dip, good god, I’m considering going there for some right now – compelled me to keep going back for another taste. I hope that, given a chance to break in and find their stride, Le Fanfare becomes a top choice for the neighborhood on nights that we want to spend sitting comfortably and living well.

Le Fanfare is open Tuesday through Saturday 5:30pm – 1:00am and Sunday 5:30 pm – 12:00 with live jazz Wednesday – Saturday.

Le Fanfare
1103 Manhattan Avenue 

New York, New York 11222

Places we like: Lighthouse

credit: Marlene Lam

credit: Marlene Lam

Go to Lighthouse and eat the ceviche. It’s the best ceviche I’ve had in NYC. The small cuts of fatty salmon and avocado, fresh tomatoes, and a tinge of the right spice, served with crunchy (not crispy) corn chips are blissful.

Admittedly, the ceviche may be a bit different depending on when you go – the restaurant focuses on seasonal ingredients, evident in the freshness of the food. The mussels (which in the world at large are hit or miss) were a Hit-Sink in their coconut lemongrass broth – good enough to eat past your fill. (I did, because there were many, for those of you concerned with portion size.) [Read more...]

Places we like: Cadaqués


credit: Marlene Lam

Slip into Cadaqués on a Monday through Wednesday, when easygoing bartender Greg will set an orange peel ablaze to add some sultry to your drink – matching the aura of this dim and gold-lit tapas bar on Grand St. (near Bedford).

Come for $1 oysters and $4 (surprisingly good) sangria during daily happy hours –including weekends. Come for the delightfully smooth Crèma Catalan, complimentary on Wednesdays. Come for the live jazz on Fridays. But really, come for the tapas. This place delivers on exactly what you’re hoping for every time you enter a tapas place – the ability to flirt with a number of dishes, and indulge in an array of satisfying flavors. Try Garlic Shrimp a la Plancha – where garlic is the ultimate trusty sidekick, not an obnoxious hero – with extra bread to exhaust the sauce, or try the Pan con Tomate to sop up your happy hour indulgence of choice.

They’ll tell you all about how “Cadaqués” is the name of a Spanish Mediterranean town where Dalí had a home–they might even show you some pictures at the bar– but if you order right (go with whatever is recommended) you’ll be too distracted to care after your first bite.

More information about Cadaqués in our restaurant guide.

-Ali Gladstone

A North Brooklyn Visitor’s Guide

No visit to New York is complete without a visit to the North Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Formerly three working-class and industrial neighborhoods, North Brooklyn now hosts many of New York’s best restaurants, a thriving art scene, and New York’s best shopping and night life. Hipster jokes aside — Girls is filmed here and The Hipster Handbook has its origins in Williamsburg — there’s more to North Brooklyn than normcore and artisanal gin bars. Pack in the highlights in 48 hours.

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